Utah has made headlines in recent years for reducing homelessness, but one homeless population continues to swell — women.
So the Women in Business Club at the David Eccles School of Business is hoping to lend a hand through its Spring Philanthropy Drive. The club hosted several partners from the homeless-services community at a Lunch and Learn discussion on Monday, March 27, and is supporting the organizations through its spring philanthropy drive.
Community partners urged the audience to see themselves in the homeless population. Most people experiencing homelessness are victims of trauma who lack a rich support network to fall back on when times get rough.
“There’s no set number, there’s no set demographic,” said Jennifer Campbell of South Valley Services. “It can happen to anyone at any time.”
The panel — which also included Michelle Tschetter and Celeste Eggert of The Road Home and Yen Nguyen of YWCA Utah — also deconstructed some of the common assumptions and stigmas associated with homelessness.
Many people end up blaming the victim, particularly in domestic-violence situations, Nguyen said. It’s common to hear things like “Why didn’t she leave?” or “She should have left sooner.” Instead, tomorrow’s business and community leaders need to reframe the narrative to one of help and support.
Another common misconception is that women experiencing homelessness are lazy and don’t want to work, Tschetter added. In reality, more than half of the population of The Road Home shelter is employed and have become homeless due to temporary circumstances beyond their control.
“I wish they knew how hard our clients work to get out of the situation they are in,” Eggert added. “They get up day after day, and they fight so hard.”
All of the community leaders urged club members to become active citizens in the community. That fits in well with the Women in Business club’s philosophy of the social change model of leadership, said club advisor Kris Fenn. The club encourages young women not only to be strong leaders in the workplace, but also in their various roles as community members.
The drive runs through April 24, and is open to students, faculty, staff and community members. Donation bins will be placed in the SFEBB lobby, and online donations are also accepted through the drive’s Amazon registry. Needed items include bed and crib sheets, towels, underwear in all sizes and diapers — both adult and infant. Baby formula, menstrual products and hygiene items are also always in demand.